The Guardian Launches API: News as Platform

In a well-received move, major British newspaper The Guardian has opened up access to its content and data sets to third parties.  The Guardian's Open Platform comprises both an API (our new Guardian API Profile) and a Data Store that provide access to multimedia content and data sets respectively. The Content API includes approximately 1,000,000 articles that go as far back as 1999 and in some cases much further back.

As stated in The Guardian's Open Platform Blog:

We've opened up our Platform to give access to our journalism, our brand, and the technologies that power The first two services we are releasing as part of the platform are the Content API and the Data Store.

The Content API is a service that allows partners to select and collect content from the Guardian.

The Data Store is a directory of useful data curated by Guardian journalists.

And in contrast to some other media company offerings the Guardian is providing the full text of their content, both here in the API and in their RSS feeds. And from a business model perspective, it's an interesting play. PaidContent:UK's good coverage has a few relevant points about this:

  • "GNM head of technology Mike Bracken told me: “It’s still in beta and we’re figuring a lot of this out… if you are a blogger, you can take the content and use it, that’s fine. The model is that if you make big money from using it, we would like a bit of the revenue share to help to pay for it.” Developers don’t have to enter into a commercial agreement straight away, but the user terms state that they are required to 'join our ad network in the future'."
  • "Digital director Emily Bell said at the launch of the Open Platform: 'We are opening everything we do through APIs and handing it over to you, which I would say is a big risk, but I’m sure it will pay back multiple dividends.'"
  • In reference to the issue of cannibalizing their existing content syndication relationships: "Can’t these customers just use the API? Bracken says if a major newspaper applied for an API Key, it would be a syndication-department matter. GNM’s rival publishers are, however, free to use the data its journalists have chased and compiled; asked whether the team minded rivals taking its content, Bell answered, without naming names: “They do already.” The content API will syndicate just data from the Guardian and selected partners—not information the Guardian pays for, such as PA or Reuters news feeds or weather information."

Open Platform is currently in beta and is being released on a limited basis. Although the service is free, developers interested in using the API and Data Store will need to register for an API Key. The RESTFUL API provides several methods for retrieving various types of content, including text and multimedia, and results are provided in XML, JSON or ATOM.

Guardian Open Platform

The Guardian has set up several resources for developers including documentation, a Google Group, and an FAQ page. Developers should take note that the API is limited to 5,000 daily requests and ads may be included in pages that display full content.

This is a nice addition to our API directory, and certainly this move by The Guardian highlights an emerging trend by traditional media providers, such as The New York Times and NPR, towards opening up content for Integration by third parties. Be sure to check out Simon Willison, ReadWriteWeb, PC World, TechCrunch, and BuzzMachine.

Be sure to read the next Financial article: Microsoft Live Search API: Now Serving Over 3 Billion Calls per Month